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I Heart Gelateria I Mannari

5 Apr

2012-03-21 16.57.07
Baci from Alessandra, one of the super sweet scoopers at I Mannari.

Here’s a gelato shop in my neighborhood, Poggio Ameno.

No one knows where the hell Poggio Ameno is.

It is NOT, as commonly believed, on Mars.

No. It is near another neighborhood which is *slightly* more well-known, called La Montagnola.

If you don’t know where either of those are, then all I can say is that it’s before EUR, on the 30 Express line, just past the ex-Fiera di Roma, across from Garbatella.

And if you still don’t know where it is, then I cannot be of further assistance.

In any case, I Mannari merits a visit. I’m not kidding. It’s worth the trip.

Since it’s my neighborhood gelato shop, and since, as you can tell from the above description, my neighborhood isn’t exactly Piazza Navona, I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t expecting, for example, Gelato Fantasia or anything. But I was wrong to have had such low expectations.

Very, very wrong.

The shop has recently undergone a facelift, but the real joy is in the delectable flavors and exceptional taste of this gelato.

The owner, Giuseppe, singled me out because I was telling my friend that the fact that this gelateria uses Valrhona chocolate is kind of a big deal. It’s a super fancy chocolate and who would want to spend money on a fancy chocolate when there’s so much cheap chocolate powder out and about? Clearly, someone with a major passion for quality gelato.

2012-03-21 16.57.13
Don’t get him started–he won’t let you go. He’s so passionate about his work it’s very contagious–and he’ll keep filling you up with more little tastes! He even gave me a Sicilian briochè that he has brought in fresh daily from Sicily!

The other flavors here are creative and unique as well. There’s the Aztec chocolate which consists of dark chocolate and chili pepper (one of my historical favorites, wherever I can find it in the city.) But there was one flavor I’d never, ever come across in all my gelato-eating in Rome. Dark chocolate, lemon, and black pepper. Sounds disgusting. But is strangely compelling.

2012-03-21 16.55.14

2012-03-21 16.56.58
Once again, I realize my desperate need for a macro lens and a real digital camera and not my cell phone. Forgive. It’s on its way from someone who keeps forgetting to bring me their old digital camera as a gift.

Giuseppe is like an anti-snob snob. I don’t know exactly what this means, except that, he’s the worst gelato “snob” I’ve ever met in terms of his passion for his work and his exacting standards for very high quality ingredients (organic, hard-to-find gourmet brand names, pistachio di bronte, etc.). And, he is committed to not building his brand or his name through advertising, but sheerly through word of mouth. Which is why he doesn’t advertise and why he tells me he specifically opened his gelato shop here in Poggio Ameno. He doesn’t even live anywhere near this neighborhood. But he told me, after years of working for some of the big-name gelato shops downtown, “if I can make a name for myself from out here, then I know I’m making a superior product.”

I asked him why he doesn’t tell people about the fact that he uses organic lemons, or all the other special touches he uses to make such a great gelato. He says that he specifically doesn’t because “people who know what good gelato tastes like know it when they taste it. I don’t have to tell them.” And in a way, he has a point. Because I can assure you that I was surprised at how much this gelato compared favorably to the best gelato I’ve had in Rome, with nothing else to indicate that to me other than my tastebuds and gelato-tasting experiences over the years. (See Gelato Tour)

Well. My kids don’t know that the lemons are organic or the chocolate is super fancy or the neighborhood they live in isn’t the equivalent of Beverly Hills. But if it can please an SUV-sized stroller and a 4-year old with a major sweet tooth, then I’m happy.

2012-03-21 17.10.31

And despite my kiddos’ non-discriminating tastes, I, for one, can say that this gelato ranks on par with any of the places from the historic center that I’ve rated highly. If you’re ever in this area, make sure you don’t miss it.

Gelateria I Mannari on Facebook
Via di Grotta Perfetta 125

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15 Responses to “I Heart Gelateria I Mannari”

  1. Luke Archer April 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I really wish you hadn’t told me there was exceptionally good gelato walking distance from where I work.

  2. Un'americana a Roma April 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    No way! We have to set up a “gelato lunch.” You know that Italians totally justify eating gelato for lunch, right?? I think they’re open at lunch time.

  3. Luke Archer April 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    I went straight after work (such a testament to my willpower), was amazing. Yes, definitely up for a gelato lunch. Not sure my boss will be so keen on the idea, but we’ll see.

  4. Un'americana a Roma April 6, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Well could do a gelato after work too. I sometimes go there with the tribe after school or late afternoon, between 5 pm and 6. We’ll have to find a way to meet up one of these days. Glad you liked it!

  5. Catherine April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Sounds delightful. On my Roma tour notebook. Oh gosh the Aztec chilli chocolate…

  6. Barbara April 7, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    He’s right — people who know their gelato know it when they taste it. LOL! And dark chocolate, lemon, and black pepper. I’m going to try to find that in my neck of the woods now.

  7. Un'americana a Roma April 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    I went there yesterday and he told me there’s cinnamon in there too. Mmmmm…

  8. Un'americana a Roma April 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Good luck on that one… I’ve never heard of it before or since. You might have to make a special trip over here!

  9. Catherine April 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    ooh Lord Cinnamon! I’m downloading your next up video and enjoyed the Mara shot! O Italia. More and more Fellini every day.

  10. Aisha April 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Mmmmm….wish I were there

  11. Luke Archer April 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I’ve just seen your comment. Definitely up for a post-work gelato if you’re about!

  12. Marc July 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Question for you Shel 🙂

    What SNOB stands for…? (lil help that’s from latin)

  13. Sara White July 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Okay, I’m definitely going to have to head out to your neighbourhood to sample this gelato. It sounds amazing!

  14. Un'americana a Roma July 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Let’s turn to Online Etymology Dictionary for this one… take it away… snob (n.)
    1781, “a shoemaker, a shoemaker’s apprentice,” of unknown origin. It came to be used in Cambridge University slang c.1796 for “townsman, local merchant,” and by 1831 it was being used for “person of the ordinary or lower classes.” Meaning “person who vulgarly apes his social superiors” arose 1843, popularized 1848 by William Thackeray’s “Book of Snobs.” The meaning later broadened to include those who insist on their gentility, in addition to those who merely aspire to it, and by 1911 the word had its main modern sense of “one who despises those considered inferior in rank, attainment, or taste.”

  15. Un'americana a Roma July 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Sara look me up when you come over! I’d love to join you!

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